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How to Throw A Recession Party on a Budget

 by: Kim Cass

What can I say?  You’ve got to get creative in these hard economic times. Instead of sitting around, feeling sorry for ourselves- why not throw a fabulous party without breaking the bank? Oh yes my friends, it can be done. With the cooler, fall weather coming, what could be better than getting a group of your closest friends together for some good food and a few laughs by a bonfire?

Tried & True Cost-Cutting Party Tips

First off, try not to invite too many guests. Food prep for too many is difficult and much more costly. Keep the party at six to eight people (three to four couples) including yourself. Remember to plan ahead a little, this saves you enough time to bargain hunt for deals.

Cost-Cutting Food tips for your party:

  •  Clip coupons and shop discount supermarkets like Aldi or Save-A-Lot for your food items.
  • Potlucks- You provide the main dish and ask your friends to provide the side dishes or soft drinks, chips and buns and maybe a dessert.
  • Another way to save a lot of money when feeding a crowd on a budget is to make several cold and hot pasta dishes. Try a corkscrew pasta salad with broccoli, feta and tomatoes in an olive oil herb  dressing for example.
  • Another fun idea- “Make Your Own Pizza”  a great, inexpensive main course. Everyone brings a topping. Make the dough (or buy it if you are feeling lazy – try Boboli Bread Shells)  ahead of time. Everybody gets what they want, veggies, cheese, meat lover’s, etc. How fun is building your own pizza?
  • Sheet cakes serve large crowds for less money. Purchase a sheet cake for $25. Or  make your own. A couple of boxes of Duncan Heinz or Betty Crocker cake mixes are less than $5. each.
  • S’mores are a great idea for fall parties. Inexpensive too- graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate. 3 ingredients. Simple! Serve coffee with dessert. It’s inexpensive and an elegant way to end a meal.
  • BYOB- You can’t deny that alcohol is costly. Have your friends (especially the drinkers) bring their own favorite drinks, and supply a few basic drinks for them. Presentation is key: Serve drinks, but glam it up. Pour water from a pitcher with slices of lemon or cucumber in a simple pitcher of water. Pour cheap wine into a pretty decanter for a nice look. Serve a punch-type drink like a sangria with fresh fruit added, instead of stocking a complete bar. Buy soda and bottled water at a discount store by the case.


Why not go to the farmers market and by fresh veggies, fruits, & breads. Some places mark down grocery items just starting to go out of date so if you use them quickly, you can save money there. Cut up fresh veggies and lay them all out in a colorful pattern with a side of veggie dipping sauce.


Remember the Dollar Tree? Of course you do. Stock up on solid color paper plates, cups and matching napkins there for a steal.  Keep it elegant and simple. Set the table as nicely as you can, even if it’s with all low-budget items.

Play some fabulous music. I’d list a few CD’s but this will depend entirely on the age group and tastes of your friends. Lastly, enjoy your guests. Do food prep prior if you can, this frees you up to spend the evening mingling!